NYC Parish Bids Farewell to Outreach Director

Jocelyn Thomas Around the Province

NEW YORK — Staff member Marie Harrington was recognized recently for her eight years of service to St. Francis of Assisi Church on West 31 Street.

The parish’s director of outreach services retired on July 30, with two farewell luncheons.

Harrington said, “During the past eight years, I enjoyed the opportunity and challenges in developing, organizing and maintaining ongoing outreach to attract new members and to retain more than 200 participants in the RENEW Younger Retiree Program.”

The program attracted middle income, younger retirees, age 55 and over, from throughout the metropolitan area to an organization with well planned events where they were engaged and could meet new friends, she said.

“Now that St. Francis will be taking a new direction,” she said, “it is important that RENEW members continue to feel that their involvement is welcome and that their skills and talents be utilized in meaningful service and volunteer projects.”

On June 17, RENEW members gathered for a Mass and luncheon to thank Harrington for her service. A week later, the parish staff gathered in the friary dining room for a lunch in Harrington’s honor.

Pastor Jerome Massimino, OFM, presented her with a replica of the bronze statue of St. Francis that stands in the church’s 32nd Street courtyard. Photos taken at both events long with details of Harrington’s background appeared in the July 18 parish bulletin.

“In her capacity as outreach director, Marie has touched the lives of numerous people, enabled them to deal with difficult situations and circumstances, and affirmed them as worthwhile and indeed loved by God,” said Jerome.

“When she joined the staff in 2002, Marie was asked to develop new opportunities for parishioners, workers and area residents to come together in a place of welcome and hospitality,” said Timothy Shreenan, OFM, in the bulletin article.

Coincidentally, the July 18 bulletin of the Midtown Manhattan parish included a piece about the importance of hospitality. The first reading and Gospel of July 18 “both beautifully emphasize hospitality as the first response when in the presence of the holy,” according to Diana Macalin.

Harrington said, “As a social worker, I enjoyed the opportunity to plan and publicize health education lectures and innovative support groups for job loss, bereavement for loss of parents, adjustment to retirement and others. These groups attracted wonderful people who were so appreciative that St. Francis offered small group participation where Catholics came together to learn, share and to develop their own action plans for change. My job gave me the opportunity to be creative and innovative because there were always new challenges to meet. I am grateful to St. Francis and to Fr. Jerome for providing this opportunity.”

— Jocelyn Thomas is the Province’s director of communications. She welcomes information from HNP ministries about staff transitions, especially those of key positions.